God's Displeasure At Adultery And Apostasy
Ezekiel 16:35-42, “Wherefore, O harlot, hear the word of the Lord. Thus saith the Lord God; Because thy filthiness was poured out and thy nakedness discovered through thy whoredoms with thy lovers, and with all the idols of thy abominations, and by the blood of thy children, which thou didst give unto them; Behold, therefore Iwill gather all thy lovers, with whom thou hast taken pleasure, and all them that thou hast loved, with all them that thou hast hated; I wil1 even gather them round about against thee, and will discover thy nakedness unto them, that they may see all thy nakedness. And I will judge thee, as women that break wedlock and shed blood are judged; and I wil1 give thee blood in fury and jealousy. And I will also give thee into their hand, and they shall throw down thine eminent place, and shall break down thy high places: they shall shall strip thee also of thy clothes, and shall take thy fair jewels, and leave thee naked and bare. They shall bring up a company against thee, and shall stone thee with stones, and thrust thee through with their swords. And they shall burn thine houses with fire, and execute judgments upon thee in the sight of many women: and 1 will cause thee to cease from playing the harlot, and thou shalt give no hire anymore. So 1 will make my fury toward thee to rest, and my jealousy shall depart from thee, and 1 will be quiet, and will be no more angry.”
This presents God's attitude toward a sinful people. In this instance the people were a special disappointment to God for they were the nation of Judah. God had preserved this people through the ages because through them was to come the Messiah. When Northern Israel was overrun by the Assyrians, God protected Judah and its capital from being overthrown. Yet, in spite of the vivid demonstration before them what sin does to a nation, Judah persisted in the ways of evil and was now on the brink of destruction.
The prophet Ezekiel, who spoke to the people' of Judah before the Babylonian captivity, speaks again. The first twenty-four chapters of his book deal with the coming destruction due to the sinfulness of the nation. The theme might well be called, “Jerusalem must fall.” Chapter sixteen is a warning to the people of their punishment that would come corresponding to their sins. The land was doomed.
A Picture Of Judah
Judah is pictured as a harlot, a prostitute, and one guilty of whoredom. This was true of the nation both physically and spiritually. The people engaged in fornication, adultery, and all manner of sexual perversions such as would characterize heathen people. Not only were they guilty of this sin of the flesh, they were guilty of heathen religions and worship practices, serving false gods, idolatry and all manner of unfaithfulness to God.
We must remember that Judah belonged to God. They were His people, the descendants of Abraham, and His chosen ones. They were expected to be faithful to God as a wife is expected to be faithful to her husband. Yet, Judah had not kept the vows of fidelity and it was accurate to picture Judah as a harlot. Who had been Judah's “lovers” with whom she had committed this spiritual adultery against God? They were the surrounding heathen and idolatrous nations such as Assyria, Babylon, Egypt and others. Judah had partaken of their ways and neglected or totally abandoned God's ways. They had adopted the very things God prohibited. The result was a flagrant violation of God's laws and gross disobedience.
Ezekiel explains that because of Judah's spiritual adultery Judah would be punished. She would be humiliated before all nations. She had dishonored herself and brought shame on her name. She would soon be loathsome even to her former “lovers.” But what was worse, she was an abomination before God to whom she belonged.
The Lord said Judah would be treated as a woman who breaks the vows of wedlock. Under Mosaic Law, adulterers were stoned to death. Judah also would be destroyed. In fact, Judah's downfall did come literally by stoning. The Babylonians took huge stones and hurled them against the walls and buildings of the city until it was crushed throughout. The national dignity of the nation was torn asunder and ruined.
Still being' considered as a harlot, her desecration would be so complete, and she would become so hideous before all, that she would not be desirable to anyone. Such is the picture of a wicked nation that did reap what had been sown. Reduced from her former glory, now she was to be overcome because of her sins and would exist in distress and doom. Those that were once God's people brought themselves to such a state.
There are valuable lessons for us from the mistakes of Judah as we observe God's attitude toward them and the way He dealt with them. Romans 15:4 read, “Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” Paul wrote again in First Corinthians 10: 11, “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples, and they are written for our admonition upon whom the ends of the world are come. " Let us learn what is intended to be learned.
Do we not understand that God is displeased with adultery? Adultery is a sexual intercourse between a married person and another to whom the first is not married. Similarly, God is displeased with fornication, which is a broader and more inclusive term. It includes adultery, such as sexual relationships between two who are not married, homosexuality, lesbianism, beastiality and all manner of the misuse of a God-given desire. It is very disturbing that such transgressions are so commonplace in our society. The minds of many in the nation have become so twisted and distorted that they have resorted to such conduct. Our society, in many areas, borders on so-called "free love." Illicit conduct is sanctioned, even promoted, especially by those whose concern is more for money than morals. Some seek gain, not God. So much of the nation's reading material is pornographic with indecent pictures. This is even found at times in the daily newspaper ads. It all amounts to a Satanic cesspool of degeneracy. The so-called entertainment world is saturated with immorality and every kind of violation is featured in movies, television programs, dramatic plays, songs, even sporting events. The “soaps” feature sex without benefit of marriage. Ninety-four per cent of sex on the “soaps” is between people not married to each other. In our land we have such a distorted concept of sex that sex is used to sell everything. Mass efforts are made to arouse sexual senses and seek satisfactions without regard to divine teaching. Premarital sex is an epidemic with accompanying diseases. Many no longer look upon extra-marital sex as abominable. Our land is corrupt and seemingly getting more and more like Judah before God wiped her away.
Those who love God and respect His Word will neither engage in such things, condone such things, but will actively oppose such things. Regardless of what public standards of morality may be or have become, regardless of what becomes stylish and acceptable, regardless of what the majority says or does, regardless to what extent one's passions may be aroused by the efforts of evil people, God will damn the fornicator, the adulterer, the sexual pervert, unless they seek forgiveness of their sins, which demands repentance and cessation of them. Galatians 5: 19 make this so clear that no person of mental capacity to be accountable can mistake it. Illicit sexual behavior is a flagrant transgression and trespass of divine instruction. It is an open and defiant disregard of Almighty God, the Judge.
One not only loses virtue, self-respect, purity, honor, but any hope of heaven but an assurance of hell unless forgiven. “Thou shalt not commit adultery” has been God's law and remains so. First Thessalonians 4:3-5, "For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication, that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor, not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God.”
Seeing the dire consequences of such sins, we ought to keep ourselves away from circumstances and conditions that would tempt and provoke us to seek and satisfy our passions unlawfully. The sexual drive in the human body is not sinful of itself. It is of God and therefore pure and holy. God has placed this drive within mankind but also given regulation of it. Outside of the bond of marriage sex is, has been and will be sin. It is sin against self, against others, against God. It will mean hell for those who disobey and are not forgiven.
Notice how God uses this blight of sin of adultery to define His attitude toward apostasy, turning from Him. To turn away from God is to seal our eternal banishment from His glory and assure our eternal punishment in hell. To show His displeasure toward apostasy the Holy Spirit uses the strongest of terms, and symbols, to depict that displeasure at apostasy. James 4:4, "Ye adulterers and adulteresses; know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. II The world refers to the sinfulness so characteristic of the world. Those who side against God and choose the side of evil are enemies of God. James calls them adulterers and adulteresses. This would certainly be true of those who commit physical adultery, but here it also emphasizes spiritual adultery by being unfaithful to God and friends with wickedness.
Apostasy means desertion, abandonment of what was once professed, forsaking what was once held. Some teach that a Christian cannot so sin as to lose his soul once he has come to Christ. They teach a doctrine of "once saved, always saved." They teach the impossibility of apostasy in spite of what Scripture teaches. They call their doctrine the doctrine of eternal security regardless of what transpires thereafter.
The doctrine is an old one, having originated with the devil in the Garden of Eden when Satan tempted Eve with the idea that she could not fall. Even though God told them they would die the day they ate the forbidden fruit, the devil said, "You won't die. You can't fall. Actually you will be gods." So they ate, but died that day in a spiritual separation from God and were driven from the Garden of Eden.
Paul warned in First Crinthians 10: 12, "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. " This warning amounts to nonsense if one cannot fall. Paul told the Galatian church that some had already fallen (Galatians 5:4). Many first century Christians fell away, including Demas, Simon the former sorcerer and some brethren in Ephesus. Paul warned of disciples being drawn away (Acts 20:30). How dare some say it cannot be done. Paul warned how the church would drift into apostasy (First Timothy 4: 1). Revelation 22: 19 speak of those, whose names are blotted out of the book of life. Names were once there, but blotted out. Who says it cannot happen? It tells us in the Bible it has happened and can happen. Whose word is to be believed? Will it be some denominational clergyman with his human creed, or the Word of God? Every New Testament epistle includes warnings against apostasy and or admonitions to faithfulness. There must be a reason for this.
What God Think.
Second Peter 2:20-22 shows us God's attitude toward those who fall away into apostasy. Let the serious Bible student take serious note of this passage. How tragic it is for one once saved to become as Peter describes.
It is wonderful when a sinner becomes a Christian, remains loyal, lives and dies in the Lord. But when one becomes a Christian, being forgiven of past sins, only to turn back again into sin, it is a tragedy because that which was lost, although found, is lost again, worse condition than the first.
We must shun fornication, adultery and kindred sins. Remember God's displeasure toward such things and that doom awaits those who commit them.
Some may have been persuaded not to obey the gospel because of a fear that they could not remain faithful. Surely, one must remain faithful. But an awareness that one must remain faithful, and that one can fall, is a giant step toward the prevention of that fall. One need not fall. He will be more likely to remain alert and faithful because he knows he can fall. But a race is never won if never begun. One cannot finish what he never starts. Out of Christ we remain lost. Only in Christ can we be saved. We can be faithful in Christ because God never commands what we cannot do.